Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Wildfire Update: Dry Marsh in Texas Burning

It’s a summer of wild wildfires, and here is the latest from the
hot front lines… 

Fire has consumed 3,500 acres of parched coastal marsh in Texas,
including parts of Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge and
adjacent private lands – land still recovering from Hurricane Ike
three years ago.

Fire updates across the country

On the Texas-Louisiana border, the coastal marsh is dry. Waterways
that typically weave through this coastal prairie have dried up,
exposing schools of fish and blue crab and leaving the typically
lush vegetation parched. Hurricane Ike was so violent that the
coastal marsh vegetation is still recovering from the 18’ saltwater
storm surge that swallowed the landscape.

In these conditions, fire was started June 12 in three locations on
the Texas Point Refuge, 8,950 acres sitting on the Gulf Coast
adjacent to the Sabine River and Louisiana. The exact cause of the
fire has not yet been determined.

Fire crews from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Indian
Affairs, Forest Service, National Park Service and the City of Port
Arthur responded. The fire threatened 24 structures but all were
successfully protected.

“When the fire is moving through the canopy of Chinese Tallow
trees, and there is no fire on the ground – a situation known as
‘crowning’ – you have some pretty extreme fire behavior,”   said
Craig Crenshaw, assistant fire management officer for the Texas
Chenier Plain Refuge Complex. “On a typical fire, Chinese tallow
rarely burns, much less in the crown of the trees.  But the drought
has been so severe that even the tallow was burning.”

Biologists will be monitoring the vegetation to evaluate the impact
of the drought and the fire on the long term health of the coastal
marsh. The fire may have burned the vegetation to the point that it
cannot recover, making the marsh susceptible to becoming open
water, part of the Gulf.

Other Fires in the Southwest

The Southwest Region remains hot and dry, with “red flag” warnings
across most of Arizona and New Mexico.  Service biologists are
closely monitoring the endangered Mexican wolf population in the
area of the Wallow Fire, since it appeared most of the packs were
denning at the time of the fire’s outbreak.  Biologists are also
monitoring other endangered species living in the area, including
the Mexican spotted owl, currently breeding, and bald eagles,
currently nesting. 

Fires in the Southeast

Three large fires were burning on 292,115 acres (456 square miles)
in Georgia as of June 20, one on Okefenokee National Wildlife
Refuge, and all threatening homes. About half the refuge has burned
since the fire started at the end of April.  Major highways are
affected by smoke.

The Pain’s Bay Fire on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge,
NC, is largely contained, although smoke continues to be a major
public health concern.

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